Richard Gere says he accepted the part of a high-paid hustler in the 1980 drama American Gigolo partly because of the gay subtext in the film.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the 63-year-old actor reflects on some of his best-known films. Among then is the stylish 1980 thriller which made a superstar not only of Gere but also fashion designer Giorgio Armani, who supplied much of the clothing worn by the actor. EW's Dave Karger notes that John Travolta dropped out of the role of Julian, and Gere stepped in just two weeks before filming began. "The role, with its surprising full-frontal nudity, made Gere an instant sensation," writes Karger.
Gere recalls how he decided to take the role with which he would become synonymous during the early 1980s. "Paul came to see me in Malibu and said, 'You've got to say yes to this by tomorrow at the latest.' I read it and I thought, 'This is a character I don't know very well. I don't own a suit. He speaks languages; I don't speak any languages. There's kind of a gay thing that's flirting through it and I didn't know the gay community at all.' I wanted to immerse myself in all of that and I had literally two weeks. So I just dove in. If I recall, [the nudity] wasn't in the script. It was just in the natural process of making the movie. I certainly felt vulnerable, but I think it's different for men than women."
Gere would appear on Broadway in the gay-themed concentration camp drama Bent the same year Gigolo was released.
Watch the trailer for American Gigolo below.